BHP bid for Rio antitrust approval

May 24, 2008

May 24 (The Sydney Morning Herald) – BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, says an application for European antitrust approval of its hostile $189 billion bid for Rio Tinto Group is likely to be made next month.

The submission to the European Commission, the European Union’s antitrust regulator, is “likely by June,” BHP spokeswoman Tracey Whitehead said in London last night.

BHP declined to comment on reports that the bid prompted increased scrutiny and more questions than expected from European authorities. The takeover may lead to higher steel prices, which would slow global economic growth.

“The transaction hasn’t been notified,” Jonathan Todd, a commission spokesman, said by telephone today from Brussels. “The European Commission never comments about talks that may or may not be taking place about a pending merger case.”

The commission will take representations from steelmakers who oppose the transaction. European steel lobby group Eurofer said in February the deal would concentrate influence over global iron-ore prices by combining the second-and third-largest exporters of the raw material.

Rio rejected an offer by Melbourne-based BHP of 3.4 shares for each Rio share in February, saying the bid “significantly” undervalued its mines and growth prospects.

Brazil’s Cia. Vale do Rio Doce is the world’s largest iron ore producer.

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